Home » Posts tagged 'beauty'
Tag Archives: beauty
(Une nuit de Cléopâtre)
(A young hunter is willing to die to be with queen Cleopatra for just one evening.)
Word for word, this little novella (three times the length of a typical short story at about 12,700 words) probably paints the most vibrant description of ancient Egypt in all of literature. This is my favorite aspect of the work, though for others it might be the engaging romantic plot, or the typical though attractive take on the queen’s psychology. It is a simple tale, but richly set and beautifully told.
(What does it really mean for an opinion to be “a matter of taste”?)
When we say “it’s just a matter of taste”, a bold and negative message lies behind the word “just”. Whether intended or not, the word creates a whiff of denigration. We discredit the thing we’re describing, reducing it such that it does not require much attention or respect. It’s a surefire conversation-ender. We are in effect saying that the question of whether the food is good, the music inspiring, or the sight beautiful, is not really worthy of discussion. We are also espousing a momentous philosophical position: that the matter at hand is subjective, in the sense that two individuals considering it may come to contradictory conclusions about it and neither could possibly be justified in criticizing the other. Probably not very many of us, when we make such a statement, are actually prepared to defend our implicit position, or the accompanying subliminal evaluation. More likely, we are simply incorporating into our daily language certain assumptions about the world, about truth, about goodness and beauty and love and appreciation and worthiness. Sometimes we can use quippy phrases because they come easily, whether or not we realize that we are taking a side on something. In time a fallacious circle is likely to complete itself: someday when we actually consider the matter, we will find ourselves thinking our assumption very likely to be true, simply because our manner of thinking has been shaped by our (and our community’s) manner of speaking. If we are trained long enough to talk as if something is so, we will tend to think it is so unless we examine our ideas deliberately.